Cover: General and Flag Officer Costs

General and Flag Officer Costs

Annual Cost Estimates for General and Flag Officers and Supporting Personnel

Published Jan 23, 2020

by David Knapp, Michael Vasseur, Hannah Acheson-Field, Jonathan Welch, Lisa M. Harrington

Download

Download eBook for Free

Full Document

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 0.8 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.

Errata

Posted on April 15, 2020.

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 0.1 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.

Purchase

Purchase Print Copy

 Format Price
Add to Cart Paperback140 pages $28.00

Research Question

  1. What are the average annual total costs of typical G/FO positions as well as the annual total costs of specific G/FO positions?

This report documents a framework for estimating the costs of general and flag officers (G/FOs) and their support personnel and applies it to estimate these costs for fiscal year 2018. This cost-estimating framework is consistent with the requirements of Section 596 of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act. The authors estimate average annual total costs of typical G/FOs as well as the annual total costs of specific G/FO positions. G/FO positions differ in several key characteristics, including location, nature of position, organizational type, and function. These differences can substantially influence cost estimates of G/FOs and their support personnel. The authors find that average total direct costs of typical G/FOs and their support staff increases with pay grade from $600,000 for O-7 pay grades up to $3 million for O-10 pay grades. The cost increase primarily reflects staff increases in roles that support general or flag officers in the execution of their duties and responsibilities. We find costs of specific G/FO positions vary substantially by nature of position, organizational type, and functional area. Estimated costs range from $270,000 for O-7 pay grades with no staff or travel to more than $10 million for O-10 pay grades that receive continuous protection and are required to use government aircraft for official travel. If consistently and repeatedly collected, these average annual cost estimates can be used to identify trends in G/FO costs over time.

Key Findings

  • Average annual total direct costs of typical G/FOs and their support staff increases with pay grade from $600,000 for O-7 pay grades up to $3 million for O-10 pay grades.
  • Costs of specific G/FO positions vary substantially by nature of position, organizational type, and functional area.
  • Estimated costs range from $270,000 annually for G/FOs in pay grade O-7 with no support personnel to more than $10 million annually for G/FOs in pay grade O-10 who receive continuous protection and are required to use government aircraft for official travel (e.g., service chiefs).
  • High G/FO cost estimates are primarily driven by the direct costs of supporting personnel, including continuous security details and the cost of military air travel for personnel required to use it.

Recommendations

  • Develop a framework for estimating marginal costs of upgrading or downgrading G/FO positions.
  • If G/FO position cost estimates are repeated in the future, then (1) exclude G/FO official residence costs from future G/FO cost estimates of specific G/FO positions, (2) exclude G/FO training costs as a separate cost category in future G/FO cost estimates, (3) exclude the cost of protection detail extraordinary equipment from future G/FO cost estimates of specific G/FO positions, (4) incorporate tax advantage into the cost of G/FOs and their support personnel in future G/FO cost estimates, (5) collect data that link specific personnel to their authorized position and include in a common data system, (6) develop standardized position titles and manning document structure across the services and joint organizations, (7) collect or make available U.S. Navy civilian manpower authorizations in a single database to facilitate estimation of civilian support costs, and (8) collect unit identification codes reflecting the unit a service member is assigned to in the U.S. Marine Corps and department identification code for joint duty assignments.

This research was sponsored by the Office of Military Personnel Policy and conducted within the Forces and Resources Policy Center of the RAND National Defense Research Institute.

This report is part of the RAND research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit www.rand.org/pubs/permissions.

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.